Want to travel more this year, but don’t have the money or ability to leave the state? You’re in luck. Utah is known for its beautiful scenery and unique land formations. However, with the national government shutdowns, Utah’s Mighty 5 (Zions, Arches, Bryce, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef) are partially shut down leaving the national parks without shuttles or clean bathrooms — but do not fear Utah has countless other attractions for you to explore. I have narrowed down this enormous list to 19 beautiful places to visit in 2019.
19: Roots of Knowledge– In the Fulton Library on Utah Valley University’s campus in Orem is located an extraordinary 200-foot long stained glass installations. The glass artwork shows the history of knowledge with images of Nelson Mandela, Charles Darwin Isaac Newton, Gandhi and much more. The artwork contained 60,000 pieces of glass and took 12 years to create. The artworks also house easter eggs, so keep your eyes peeled.
18: Utah Museum of Fine Arts (UMFA)– Located on the University of Utah Campus is the state’s fine arts museum, which started in 1914. UMFA is an excellent place for people of all ages to learn more about art and human creativity. The museum presents new exhibits often with several new exhibits opening throughout January such as, The Race to Promontory and The International Tolerance Project.
17: Sun Tunnels– In 1976, Nancy Holt constructed a piece of artwork near the Great Salt Lake made up of four 9 feet tall 18 feet long concrete tubes, but they are more than just chunks of concrete. Each pipe has holes drilled into them that represent a constellation, meaning you can see the constellations during the day. During the winter and summer solstices, the sunset can be seen through the pipes, which create some fantastic pictures.
16: Spiral Jetty– Another unique piece of art in Utah is the Spiral Jetty, located on the northern side of the Great Salt Lake. Robert Smithson created the artwork in 1970 using over 6,000 tons of black basalt rocks and earth. The coil shape is 1,500 feet long and 15 feet wide. The road to the Jetty can be a bit rough, but I have seen a Prius make it.
15: Nine Mile Canyon– Utah is home to some fantastic petroglyphs and pictographs created by past civilization; one of Utah’s most famous locations to find these pieces of art is located in Nine Mile Canyon, which spans between Wellington and Myton, Utah. The canyon is filled with Fremont and Ute art and some historic buildings. At Nine Mile Canyon, you can see thousands of images, making this an interesting trip for the entire family.
14: Rock Art in Moab– Moab, Utah is a beautiful place filled with countless wonders, but I decided to put it under petroglyphs/pictographs because it has several major rock art locations including Sego Canyon, Moab Man, and Wolf Ranch.
13: Thistle– Thistle was a small farming and ranching community, but in 1983, a landslide, one of the most damaging, dammed two creeks, which lead to the flooding of the town. Several structures remain, one of which has sunken into a bog. If you visit during the winter when the marsh is frozen, you can more easily explore, but at more risk.
12: Grafton– Grafton was a small town focused on farming, and after floods and conflicts with native Americans, the city slowly became abandoned. Grafton is known for being in several scenes from In Old Arizona and Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid, and is a great place to explore the old west in Utah.
11: Sego– Sego was a coal mining town in 1890 which was a great success with the owners of the mine creating American Fuel Company with starting stocks valued at $1 million. However, Sego had its problems with floods, power breakdowns, and strikes. Eventually, the major mining companies left, and a few men stayed in hopes of making the best of what they could and for a time it looked like their hard work was paying off until Sego caught on fire not once but twice. The town was soon abandoned. Many of the old building foundations still stand, and a couple of buildings remain intact. What makes Sego unique other than is unique history is that coal seam fires still burn, creating an eerie smoke throughout the ghost town.
Utah is home to 43 state parks, all of which have their own unique terrain and history. All the state parks have an entrance fee most range around $5-$15. I have picked four parks for this list, but it is pretty hard to go wrong with any of the state parks.
10: Snow Canyon– Snow Canyon is located near Saint George, Utah has some of Utah’s most beautiful land formations, including red and white sandstone canyons, sand dunes, extinct volcanoes, lava flows, and lava tubes. Utahan’s are not the only ones to appreciate Snow Canyons unique scenery — several movies have been shot in the park including The Conqueror, Jeremiah Johnson, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and many more. The park is also home to 13 protected species including peregrine falcons, desert tortoises, and Gila monsters. The trails range from easy to moderate and come in a variety of lengths, making Snow Canyon an excellent park for all types of hikers.
9: Goblin Valley– Goblin Valley, near Hanksville, is known for its one of a kind rock formations with several of them resembling goblins. There are also several locations on the park where the landscape comes together to create a maze-like playground. The hiking trails vary from easy to strenuous but are all less than 3 miles round trip. If you love star gazing, Goblin Valley is an excellent place to go considering that in 2015 the National Park Service’s Night Sky Team determined that the park has one of the darkest skies. Goblin Valley was also the sight of the movie Galaxy Quest in 1999.
8: Sand Hollow– Another park located near Saint George is Sand Hollow. With its beautiful red rocks and calm blue water, Sand Hollow provides an excellent backdrop for camping, boating, fishing, hiking, and ATV riding. Sand Hollow Reservoir is an excellent location for all your water needs, and the beautiful red sand dunes are a great place to have a blast.
7: Antelope Island– The Great Salt Lake is one of Utah’s most well-known features and located within the lake is Antelope Island. On the island, you can bike, hike and go horseback riding, all of which will involve great views of the lake and island. Antelope Island also offers some of Utah’s fantastic wildlife such as the bison, mule deer, bighorn sheep, antelope, and hundreds of birds. Antelope Island is also a part of the International Dark Sky Association which results in the island have fantastic views of the night sky.
6: Kennecott Mine– The Kennecott Copper Mine or the Bingham Canyon mine is the largest human-made excavation on the planet, and can be seen from space. The mine holds countless records including having produced more copper than any other mine. In 2013 a landslide triggering 16 small earthquakes caused the Visitor’s Center to close — but don’t be sad, the center is scheduled to reopen in April.
5: Heber Valley Railroad– Heber City, Utah is the start of a fantastic journey. Heber Valley Railroad has several trains that you can ride through the scenic Heber Valley and Deer Creek Reservoir. Although their famous No. 618 Steam Locomotive is currently being serviced, there are several other trains to enjoy, and you can donate money or volunteer your time to help get the train running sooner. There are also unique rides including a Valentine’s special, a chocolate lover’s train, Broadway Showtunes ride and much more.
4: Hardware Ranch– Hardware Ranch WMA is a one-of-a-kind experience where visitors can view some of Utah’s wildlife, the most famous being the elk. During the winter months, Hardwar Ranch offers sleigh rides to see the elk.
3: Homestead Crater– Utah has several unique, but Homestead Crater is unlike any other in Utah. Located in Midway is an underground hot spring. Homestead Resort has created a tunnel to more easily access the spring, but there is a cost to enter. Mineral deposits help create an ethereal setting. The spring is not just used for relaxing — reaching depths of 55 feet, it is also used by divers.
2: Snowbird– Now you cannot do places to visit in Utah without including some form of skiing or snowboarding resort. One of my favorites is Snowbird, with its variety of trails and fantastic view. Snowbird is also a great place all times of the year, with different activities during the summer including biking, an alpine slide, rope courses, bungee trampolines, and much more. Snowbird also has a fantastic spa and great restaurants such as the Summit Restaurant, the Stake Pit, and more.
1: Best Friends Animal Sanctuary– Best Friend Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah is incredible, not only in what the organization is doing, but also the location and all the unique features the Sanctuary has to offer. Best Friends is an organization dedicated to bringing about a time when there are no more homeless pets and that all living things be treated with kindness, compassion, and respect. There are several things you can do at the sanctuary, such as volunteer and work with all different kinds of animals: cats, dogs, horses, pigs, bunnies, parrots, etc. You can also take a tour, visit Angels Rest (a pet cemetery unlike anything you have ever seen), or eat at the Village Cafe, which serves vegan lunches and has some unbelievable views.
The next time you find yourself itching for a get-away, try one of these 19 amazing spots to visit in Utah. Happy travels, collegiettes!